Tuesday, January 15, 2008

LONG OVERDUE Dresden Dolls Concert Review...

Man, dear readers, have I ever been in the doldrums lately! I've got an excruciating, relentless case of writer's block, and PMS is causing me to bloat and brood. And to top it all off, I lost my IPOD TOUCH on the streets of Chicago!!!

It was last Sunday; I was running late to meet up with a dear friend and was rushing towards the cafe where we were supposed to meet, carrying some unwieldy belated Christmas presents for her. My ipod (my precious!) must have fallen out of my pocket at some point because it wasn't in my purse, nor was it hiding in my car. And all I could think was, "Mr. Maise is going to KILL me!" Well, not kill, but he would be pretty pissed, seeing as this was my birthday/Christmas present. So clearly, I'd have to hatch some plot straight out of I Love Lucy to secretly buy a new one, and then I'd be out a few hundred bucks, and if it were lost out in the world somewhere, it would mean that someone would take it, keep it, and then laugh at my music, my video selections and blackmail-material photos before erasing it all and downloading Avril Lavigne or some shit. I felt naked and despondent.

But then, shortly after I returned home, I got an email from Iris who, along with Gabriel, had been listed as one of my contacts on my ipod. Apparently, someone had found it and was looking to return it! Oh joy! Ro and I will be meeting him tomorrow evening, during which my precious will be returned to me and I will buy my hero a lovely French dinner to thank him.

If this adventure were turned into a movie, it would star John Cusack.


ANYWAY, you might be asking yourself, what does this have to do with the Dresden Dolls' latest performance in Chicago? Nothing! But despite my recent tales of woe, I simply must write this review because I'm developing an enormous guilt complex over it that is only exacerbating the writer's block.

The Dresden Dolls' first eponymous album was responsible for perserving much of my sanity during a very difficult time a year or so ago. Whenever I feel crappy, I always get in my car, drive, and sing "Good Day" at the top of my lungs (except for now, when I'm ipod-less). It's been a while since both Brian and Amanda have toured together, so Ro, Iris, Mr. Iris, and I were happy to report to the Vic Theater on Saturday, January 5th to see them in person.

Now, if you're planning to see the Dresden Dolls, do know that all manner of artsy, burlesque nonsense will be performed beforehand. The first act we saw, for example, was some performance art group performing some ballet version of "Romeo and Juliet" set to Britney Spears' "Toxic." Sigh. Can I get another beer?

Then Amanda explained that the Dresden Dolls were choosing fans to play opening songs for them, and at first I was filled with a sense of dread. Then this young woman, Molly Robison, just blew me away with unbridled awesomeness. Can you believe she's only 17? I can't. Her voice is soothing and hypnotic, and her song, "Yes, Amanda, Yes" is lovely and poignant. Check it out:



Seriously, people. LOVE.

You can check out her Myspace here. Remember her name because I'm certain we'll be hearing more from her soon!

So the Dresden Dolls take the stage and open with a chilling rendition of Pink Floyd's "In the Flesh." Brian's imitation of the original vocals is uncanny.



The Dolls played many of their favorites, ("Miss Me," "Girl Anachronism," "Coin-Operated Boy") as well as some new songs, including this one, "Sorry Bunch."



Brian and Amanda are never less than compelling onstage, even though Amanda appeared to be losing her voice. For my money, Brian is one of the best drummers in the business, and Amanda gives her all to songs that she must have performed about 5,000,000 times by now. In addition, they take audience participation to a new level. While performing "The Gardener," Amanda waded out into the crowd, until she wound up in one of the balconies. (I never noticed her feeling up the dead-looking girl until just now when I watched the video.) Towards the end of the show, Brian and Amanda took a page from Iggy Pop and allowed fans to join them onstage for a chaotic rendition of "You Gotta Fight for Your Right to Party." I love that their fans are gentle enough to let them perform this way without inordinate molestation.



I think if I had one minor criticism, it's that the middle of the set tends to sag with slow, ponderous songs that are light on Brian's thundering drums. And probably the 30-minute instrumental opening to "Half Jack" is overkill. But I think I can speak for the majority of the audience there that night and report that a fantastic time was had by all, and I strongly urge all of you to make a point to see the Dresdent Dolls when they come to your town!

For more Dresden Dolls clips and other Places Parallel exclusive videos, click here. For mouth-watering pictures of a half-naked Brian Viglione, I suggest you look here.

40 comments:

Iris said...

This was the first night I got to wear my new glasses and HOLY COW! Being able to actually see the stage is a wonderful thing! Especially when sitting in the furthest row back up in the balcony.

I was a little hesitant at first to break out the camera since The Vic has posters up all over the place saying photography and recording video are prohibited yadda, yadda, yadda...so that's why the video to Molly's performance is all shaky. It wasn't until the guy next to us set up his high tech camera (with a tripod and huge mic!) that I figured out security didn't care.

Molly, Molly, Molly. This performance was so fantastic. She stayed calm, cool,and collected and her song was so sweet. I seriously doubt that I would have been able to keep it all together after being introduced by the person for whom the song was written and in front of a sold out crowd of 1400 people. Kudos, girl!

The rest of the show was fantastic as well. Amanda and Brian are such characters on stage. Amanda made sure to point out Brian's new shirt that had a lion on it. I thought this was going to be a segue way into "Pierre" but it didn't happen.

That last bit with the Beastie Boys cover was a riot to watch. Amanda is a crazy mofo on the drums! Both of them were making funny faces through the whole show but Amanda looked especially deranged during that song. And Brian doesn't play too bad...for a drummer. At some point earlier in the show when he was "tuning up" for a song he broke into Metallica's "Master of Puppets". He lost a few coolness points there but we all know how I hate Metallica. -blech-

Danny Angel said...

Great review. Looked like a blast.

I don't see the talent in the opening act but again one person with a guitar bores the shit out of me.

Great vids too. I'd never heard the Dresden Dolls... so glad you included the vids as the review really came to life.

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Iris said...

"one person and a guitar bores the shit out of me"

Unless that person is playing air guitar and there's heavy metal music blasting, right Angelman?

maise said...

Oh Angelman, you know you wouldn't like Molly's music unless she were in a Bay-area thrash metal band called Plague Monkey or something.

maise said...

Oh, and I just have to give Iris props for the HYSTERICAL Photoshop job.

She's also responsible for all the awesome concert vids...one of which is now featured on Amanda Palmer's blog!

YAY, Iris!

Ro said...

I must say, this concert was FAR better than the first time Maise and I saw them when we were forced to stand outside for 2 hours on a cold winter night. They were fun and upbeat throughout, and they did a good job of mixing their old favorites with their newer, unknown stuff. And Molly was totally awesome as well, especially considering how young she is.

Oh, and Iris, you've got mad Photoshopping skillz. I look HAWT!

Danny Angel said...

Touche, Iris, touche.

But still... what makes her so great? I could youtube about 8000 people at coffee shops doing the same thing with the same talent. Acoustic guitar + one singer = snoozefest. You know that is true.

Glad you got you ipod back, maise.

Plague monkey... bah!

GET EDUCATED, PEOPLE

maise said...

Plague Monkey...Epidemic...same difference.

Molly Robison is 17 years old, and she plays extremely well, sings extremely well, and her lyrics reveal a maturity beyond her years. So suck it.

Danny Angel said...

You're just imagining that because she was on stage. If she was performing at Starbucks or Borders you would see her as she really is... BORING.

YOU SUCK IT!

maise said...

I can assure you that she was NOT boring, and you have a warped sensibility anyway.

You suck it MORE!

Danny Angel said...

There was a video posted. I actually had a fit of narcolepsy watching it.

How are my sensibilities warped? Because I like challenging music, while you like vanilla flavored "rock"?

Maise, stick to what you know... being a ghost dog, losing your ipod, shopping, nail polish, your father's BMW, and your poor, rich drunk mother in the Caribbean

Danny Angel said...

AHHH.

Her Myspace songs are AWFUL!

maise said...

We are all aware that her music isn't your cup o'tea, but that doesn't mean that her work sucks. Because she emphatically doesn't.

Move on.

Have some opinion about the Dresden Dolls, maybe?

Danny Angel said...

oh come on - did you not even pick up on my breakfast club nod?

maise said...

Okay, the Breakfast Club was funny, I'll give you that.

Iris said...

Ok DA, everyone is entitled to their opinion even if it is WRONG, which in your case IT IS! Molly was and is great. Maise and I are not the only ones of that opinion. Not only did she get an awesome introduction from Amanda but if you could bother to wake yourself, part way into the video you hear the audience start applauding and WHOO'ing in APPROVAL and ENCOURAGEMENT! And that was before the song was even over. If I hadn't been trying to conserve space on my memory card you also would have heard the wild applause she received at the end.

Perhaps this concept is lost on you seeing as how you think that in order to get an audience to clap you have to threaten them that you'll keep repeating the same song over and over and over and then doing just that. ;-)

Molly has a good voice, the song was touching, and she's got charisma, which is more than what the average Starbucks "performers" have and why they are boring to watch/listen to. Isn't a big factor of being a musician connecting with the audience? I think she's clearly succeeded on that front.

Now moving on to the Dresden Dolls. Do you have any harsh criticisms for Brian, a New Hampshire boy, riffing "Master of Puppets" at a cabaret show? Is this blasphemy? Let's discuss.

Ro said...

The only real blasphemy was any appearance of Metallica period. Their music SUCKS ASS.

Danny Angel said...

Iris and all PP Ladies:

Suck it.

First off, I think it is cute that people whoo-ed and all that. I don't doubt that she has her supporters. But keep it in perspective. Gabriel and My rap-metal band from 1992 got whoo-ed, as well. That is not a joke. We will not see big things from her and she will not be a success. Girls (or guys) for that matter with an acoustic guitar are a dime a dozen. "Hey, look at me, I have my acoustic guitar and am singing about my feelings" See... now I'm just like her. She's boring, she will live forever in obscurity and I will continue to remind you about this every chance I get.

Jewel called and wants her 90s-era act back, Molly.

No harsh criticism of Brian's Master of Puppets riff. And I agree Ro, Metallica sucks but their first 3 albums are some of the most important in musical history... and Master of Puppets is off their third album. Let me know when Molly or the Dresden Dolls come close to the fan base or groundbreaking style (fusing punk and metal) that Metallica did when they were still relevant.

So, I no doubt appreciate that you will try to top this but I have stated all facts. Not what I "feel" but facts. If at any point you ladies want to take this further based on actual FACT, let me know. Otherwise, watch your mouth and show some respect.

5...
4...
3...
2...

maise said...

Wow, Dan, for finding Molly's work "boring," you sure do have yourself worked up in a lather over it. I don't know if any of this has to do with some guitar-playing ex-girlfriend or a girl who turned you down for prom, but settle down, dude.

Danny Angel said...

Ha.

Maise, light of my life, my original post said this:

I don't see the talent in the opening act but again one person with a guitar bores the shit out of me.

Simple, short observation.

all successive responses were as short or shorter... until Iris had the bad judgement to get all worked up about it. Maybe SHE is the one with the unrequieted crush.

I'm just laying down the law. It is WHAT I DO.

maise said...

So wait, it was Iris who got you all worked up? She is married, you know.

Danny Angel said...

WHAT?

Shit. I sent all those nude photosets of me and angelcat for nothing.

maise said...

No wonder she was complaining of burned retinas and temporary blindness the other day.

Danny Angel said...

blindness... you know what they say causes blindness...

maise said...

I said blindness and burned retinas, not blindness and a serious case of carpal tunnel.

Iris said...

One comment. One comment was all I had after all your and Maise's back and forth comments in the afternoon. I wasn't worked up. I was speaking the truth condensed to one comment instead of 10.

But how dare you suggest that I have some sort of unrequited crush. I'd really rather not talk of my college days as they are still too painful. Oh Buffalo Lili...you're act could have gone so far if you hadn't turned your cold shoulder and fell for a dude. My heart...my heart was crushed and I'll never trust another woman again.

Yeah I remember those pictures. *shudder* Man you have an unnatural relationship with your cat. The mini kitty gimp outfit was really, really unnerving. Seek help man.

CrazysNicole said...

I need to remember to come here more often.

Yay, for getting the Ipod back.

And what amazes me is at the end of the post when dealing with the Brian photos. It's like you so know what to say to get my attention. =p

Iris said...

Okay, people. I'm putting all snark to the side for a moment to tell you that I LOVE Amanda Palmer SO FRIGGING MUCH right now.

I don't mean to sound self-important here but remember how Maise mentioned earlier that Amanda had linked up to one of our videos on her blog? Well I was pretty psyched about that and absolutely had to comment over there to say how thankful and humbled I was by it. Now, after checking back in to see what other comments had been posted, I notice that Amanda has edited her post to directly credit me (and Places Parallel) for the video! And not only did she merely read my comment but she also read my blogger profile to see that I was from Iowa. How fucking cool is that?!?!

This what I LOVE about her and this band! I know she doesn't really have a clue who I am but she/they have this way of really making their fans feel individual and special. And it feels like they are sincere about it, too. I don't care how cheesey that sounds to the haters. This is beyond just connecting with the audience at a show. This is post-show connection and is the coolest. thing. ever.

Amanda Palmer is DA SHIZNIT!

(you may resume snark...now)

CrazysNicole said...

Can I just go back to drooling over photos of Brian?

Iris said...

I might recommend a bib for you, CrazyNicole? Really, the drool stains on your shirt are so unladylike.

CrazysNicole said...

*puts on a bib and drools more.*

I could drool over my Brian signed shirt, too bad it's at my other place. And there's always the chance I'd get drool on the prefectness.

Danny Angel said...

I'm about to see moby perform at sundance. What are you doing, places parallel?

Iris said...

Well I'm sitting around in my favorite fuzzy, pink polka-dotted bathrobe scouring the Internets for gossip. How else would I be spending my Sunday evening?

maise said...

Dan, is it true that Moby used to be in a hardcore punk band? (I watched part of a documentary last night called American Hardcore, and all of a sudden Moby was one of the talking heads) I'm having a really hard time picturing him in one of those bands.

Danny Angel said...

apparently he was though I don't think it was a well known band. I ended missing the show because two parties overlapped but did go after and drooled over his guitars, one of which was a Les Paul goldtop.

I also didn't get to see the doc on Anvil, which apparently was awesome. I have seen some great flicks though and most of the parties have been only marginally annoying. No complaints. Well there is this thing the locals call snow that makes it cold that we don't get a lot of in LA... That has been a pain.

maise said...

Well, darling, just be glad you're not out in the Midwest...I think we hit about -7 or so yesterday (not including windchill). It's more pleasant today but still colder than a witch's tit.

Danny Angel said...

yeah, screw that. Me and the cold don't mix. At all.

Its in the 20s here, teens at night.

Iris said...

Yeah we went out this weekend in this crap. It sucks when the hair in your nostrils freezes because it's so cold outside but I can't breathe through my mouth because it makes my teeth hurt. BRR!

Danny Angel said...

when I lived in the Bay Area I was a little more acclimated to the cold but living in LA has made a pussy.